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Top 10 Lost Art Forms Of India

Review by : WorthITT Team
Date: 25 Feb 19

India has always been known as the land of spices. But as much as it has a variety of spices, India has an equally diverse art culture. Not only does each region of India has an art form that it calls its own, but we can also find multiple art forms, tracing back to one region. Different art forms also arise from different social and linguistic groups.

Each art form has its own history, its own cultural significance. Be it Warli paintings from Maharashtra or the traditional Naga bamboo handicrafts, each art has a beauty for its own. Rapid urbanization and modernization have led to declining of many traditional Indian art forms. Here is a list of 10 such art forms that are being lost in the modern world:

  1. Manjusha Paintings
Picture Credit: http://www.manjushakala.in

Folk art of Bhagalpur, Bihar, Manjusha art can be dated back to the 7th century. This art is believed to be the only art form in India which is displayed in a series, i.e., the art form has a sequential representation of the story. Manjusha art is a scroll painting and a line drawing art. Pink, green and yellow are primarily used colours. Manjusha art is said to portray the cultural and religious heritage of Bihar. Bihar government is taking initiatives to ensure that the art is not lost.

2) Parsi Embroidery

Picture Credit: https://www.utsavpedia.com

Parsi embroidery has nearly become extinct, but thanks to a sudden interest in this form of embroidery, the art didn?t get lost. The most evident form of the Parsi embroidery can be found in the form of Gara sarees. The embroidery on these sarees is an important part of the textile history of India. The embroidery uses various motifs to depict nature. To make a Gara saree, an embroiderer takes around nine months, such is the intricacy and delicacy of this art. As mass production and machine-embroidery caught up, the art of Parsi embroidery started dwindling.

3) Dokra Art

Picture Credit: https://engrave.in

Dokra is the earliest known method of non-ferrous metal casting, using the lost-wax casting technique. This sort of metal casting has been used in India for over 4,000 years and is still used. One of the earliest and most famous specimens of the Dokra art is the Dancing Girl of Mohenjo-Daro. These products have been in great demand and have worldwide recognition. But there is a fear of losing this art form as the number of artisans/tribals practising this art is dwindling.

4) Puppetry

Picture Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org

Throughout the vast geographical expanse of India, the art of puppetry is found in different regions, albeit with different names. All through history, puppetry has been the major source of traditional entertainment. Puppetry is a form of narrative theatre and was very popular amongst the young and old alike. The most famous form of Indian puppetry has to be ?Kathputli?, the Rajasthani puppets. Indian puppetry forms involve string puppets, shadow puppets, rod puppets and glove puppets. This art form of storytelling is getting lost as more and more people prefer television and movies.

5) Burra Katha

Picture Credit: https://www.youtube.com

It is an oral storytelling technique, unique to the villages situated in present-day Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. This performance art usually involves only three artistes???a narrator, a wise analyst and a jester. It was a popular medium to narrate the Hindu mythological stories. As movies and internet play a major role in everyone?s life today, the art of Burra Katha is dying. Interestingly, the government has been using this art-form to spread the word about their policies. But apart from this government-sponsored social troupe, this rich art form is rarely seen.

6) Patta Chitra

Picture Credit: https://www.craftsvilla.com

Patta Chitra is the generic term used to describe the traditional, cloth-based scroll painting. It is one of the ancient artworks of Orissa and is also a part of Bengal history. Pattachitra have mythological narratives, which are explained using intricate details. This art form is defined by its rich use of colour, creative designs and motifs and a combination of classical and folk elements. While this art form received patronage in the earlier times, in the present age, artists are finding it difficult to sustain a living from this art form. The government of Orissa has tried to take steps to conserve this dying art form.

7) Rogan Painting

Picture Credit: http://www.dsource.in

While the origins of this art form can be traced back to Persia, the home of this art form is definitely the Kutch district of Gujarat. Rogan painting is done on a cloth. The colours are made by adding vegetable pigments to castor oil. The pattern is applied using blocks, which have the design carved into them. This art form was nearly lost, as Rogan painting was being practised by only one family in Gujarat.

8) Chhau Dance

Picture Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org

Native to Orissa, a typical Chhau dance team comprises of 10?25 dancers and musicians who carry a large number of musical instruments. It is quite possible that you?ve seen this art form in movies or travel shows. The Chhau dancers are dressed in colourful and glittery dresses and their faces are covered with huge masks. These costumes add life to the stories that are performed through Chhau dance. While the government of Jharkhand is trying to support this art form, not enough people from the future generation are interested in this art form.

9) Ganjifa

Picture Credit: http://lostindianart.com

It is a type of card game that is associated with Persia and India. When the usage of these cards stopped in Iran, India remained the only country to produce them. In Indian historical heritage, these cards hold a significant position as they were not only treated as a medium of entertainment, but a lot of attention was also paid to the design and colours of these cards. The cards narrated age-old epics and folklore. While Ganjifa were famous during the Mughal era, they faded out of prominence during the British rule. The art has majorly lost its grandeur, but is not yet lost, owing to the few last artists.

10) Toda embroidery

Picture Credit: https://medium.com

Exclusively made by women of the Toda pastoral people, this embroidery art has such a finished look that it appears like a woven cloth. Toda embroidery is done on white cotton cloth, using red and black threads. The Toda people are very proud of this art and adorn themselves with such embroidered cloaks and shawls. In the past few years, funding from developmental organizations has ensured that Toda embroidery art doesn?t get lost.

Written By: Mallika Kelkar

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